Dayton pays $45k to settle Jack Runser lawsuit alleging police mistreatment
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Dayton pays $45k to settle Jack Runser lawsuit alleging police mistreatment

Aug 18, 2023

The city of Dayton has agreed to pay $45,000 to settle a lawsuit that was filed by a man who is deaf, mute and has cerebral palsy, who claimed he was mistreated by Dayton police.

Jack Runser, 52, alleged that two Dayton police officers violated his rights in November 2020 when he was stopped, questioned, handcuffed, placed in the back of a police cruiser and whisked away to the hospital.

The officers involved, Seth Victor and Joshua Wiesman, later said they believed Runser was high or was in the grip of a mental health crisis and needed help.

Runser was detained by police while he was walking from his West Dayton home to a Dollar General store located on the 800 block of South Gettysburg Avenue.

A passing motorist who saw Runser called 911 and asked for a welfare check. Runser later explained he was walking along the median in the roadway because there was no sidewalk.

Officers Wiseman and Victor approached Runser in a parking lot, but Runser said they were wearing masks and he couldn’t read their lips and he didn’t think they were trying to interact with him.

Runser said the officers grabbed and handcuffed him and placed him in the back of a cruiser before taking him to the hospital.

Runser filed a civil lawsuit in federal court that claimed police did not have probable cause to arrest him and he was falsely imprisoned.

Runser also claimed the officers violated his civil rights, injured him and did not properly communicate what was going on.

Police denied any wrongdoing, and an internal police investigation into the incident exonerated the officers of misconduct.

A citizens’ board later said it did not concur with the results of that internal investigation, and the board recommended disciplinary action, additional training and a probe into some other claims of policy violations.

The judge in the federal court case referred the matter to mediation last year. The Dayton City Commission approved the $45,000 settlement on Wednesday night.

In a separate case earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it reached a settlement agreement with the city of Dayton over allegations that police discriminated against a driver with disabilities during a traffic stop.

The Justice Department said its investigation “substantiated” that the Dayton Police Department provided Clifford Owensby, a paraplegic resident, with “unequal and ineffective” services by yanking him from his vehicle without a mobility aid.

The settlement agreement said the police department would modify its policies to be consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Officers also were to receive ADA best practices training.

Owensby has sued the city and the police department in federal court, but that case remains unresolved.

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